Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a serious condition that, if left untreated, can be fatal, and seniors are at an especially high risk. In people over the age of 65, heart failure is the most common reason for hospital admissions, with 900,000 people being hospitalized in the US each year.
CHF does not mean that the heart is literally failing. The heart just has a difficult time pumping blood throughout the body and has to work harder. This results in buildup of fluid throughout the body.
There are many potential causes of CHF: coronary artery disease (CAD), heart attack, cardiomyopathy, and conditions that weaken the heart, such as high blood pressure, heart valve disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and birth defects. CHF can be managed and treated by working with a physician, using medications, and also utilizing non-medical treatments such as in-home caregivers
In-home care can be very beneficial to the CHF patient. Having a caregiver in the home who has knowledge of CHF can help the patient to get the fastest and best possible treatment. CHF needs to be promptly treated in order to avoid complications or more serious issues. If potential symptoms of CHF present themselves, a well-educated caregiver can contact the patient’s doctor, and treatment can be obtained immediately. The patient’s normal senior care routine can be modified to include protocol for CHF.
Warning Signs of CHF
- Congested Lungs: Fluid may back up in the body due to a weak heart. The patient may experience shortness of breath when exercising and/or difficulty breathing when at rest or lying flat. A dry, hacking, or wheezing cough may also be present.
- Fluid and Water Retention: The patient may experience swollen ankles, legs, or abdomen (edema). They may also experience significant weight gain in a short period of time. An increased urge to urinate may also be present. Bloating in the stomach may cause nausea and/or loss of appetite.
- Dizziness, Fatigue, and Weakness: Decreased blood flow to the major organs of the body may cause these symptoms to arise.
- Rapid or Irregular Heartbeat: With fluid buildup in the body, the heart may have to work harder to pump blood to major organs.
In addition to recognizing warning signs of CHF, in-home caregivers can assist the patient in the following ways:
- Assisting the patient with maintaining fluid balance by keeping a daily journal of fluid intake
- Ensuring the patient follows a low-sodium diet
- Helping the patient with weight maintenance
- Monitoring of symptoms and notifying the doctor when needed
- Ensuring the patient takes medications as prescribed
If your senior loved one suffers from CHF or other severe heart problems, they may benefit from the added care and expertise of an in-home care provider. A knowledgeable caregiver will maintain consistent communication with the patient, his or her doctors, the family, and all other involved parties, in order to ensure the patient’s medical needs, health, and safety are met.
At David York Agency, we offer home healthcare services from highly trained and vetted professionals who you can trust. From home health aides to RN’s and LPNs, DYA can provide your family with a level of in-home assistance that meets your needs.
For more information about our qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.